Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - March 23, 2006)
Diversions and sojourns
We all have to do unpleasant chores or activities when wed much rather be
doing something else. But we also find that if we set a reward at the completion of
that activity we have something to look forward to.
|Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
|Gulf Coast-Florida boat-tailed
grackle gleams proudly while posturing for a photo
For example, weve learned if we eat the spinach then we can have an ice
cream for dessert. Or get all the homework done and we may go outside and play.
Eliminate the ice cream and other sweets, and we may be able to fit into that
pretty bathing suit weve had our eye on in the catalog. And so it is with our
goals and rewards system.
One endeavor I intensely dislike is driving on downtown freeways and in downtown
bumper to bumper traffic. Get me out on the open road with a picnic basket and a
pair of binoculars, and its difficult to bring me back home. Stick me in
traffic, wedged between transfer trucks and delivery vans, exhaust fumes billowing
into the pure blue sky, with some hotshot in a red sports car feeling a need for
speed, cutting back and forth between lanes, well, hell on earth has pretty much
been created right there for me.
But life still goes on whether we enjoy doing some things or not. The mortgage
still needs to be paid, groceries need to be bought, meals need to be cooked even
when we are tired and kids need to be fed. And whether I like it or not I still
have to strap on my seatbelt several times a week in an effort to sustain a
reasonable lifestyle. It just is the way it is. We do what we gotta
So I have devised a plan.
After investigating a map I locate the nearest beach or nature preserve to my
destination then I leave at least one half hour early for my journey. This plan has
offered me the opportunity to visit many out-of-the-way places I may never have had
the chance to go see.
On one recent sojourn I visited a local beach near my destination. There were only
two other cars in the parking lot. The suns warmth was glorious, while a
nearby yacht club provided gentle music with the banging of ropes against tall
masts. The water spread out to infinity. In that distance I observed a large
freighter slowly working its way across the horizon.
As I raised my camera to capture the scene I was unexpectedly distracted by a
gregarious visitor less than 3 feet from my shoulder. As I turned to view this
curious character I was met almost eye to eye with a lone boat-tailed grackle.
After a gentle hello and how are you, I took a step back and viewed my guest
through the lens of my camera. The grackle found the camera as curious as I found
the grackle. We both stared at one another for awhile then I clicked off several
photos. The grackle relaxed and began to preen itself and seemed to enjoy the wind
tussling its feathers in a mess again.
Grackles are difficult birds to distinguish. Size, color of eye and shape of tail
offer the best clues, as well as song. The common grackle, Atlantic great-tailed
grackle and boat-tailed grackle have yellow eyes, but the Gulf Coast-Florida
grackles have brown eyes. The boat-tailed grackle and the great-tailed grackle are
even more difficult to distinguish. The great-tailed grackle is larger and the tail
is extremely long.
Males of all three species of grackles are black birds with an iridescence to
their feathers. Boat-tailed grackles are greenish-blue iridescence. Great-tailed
grackles are purplish-blue iridescence. The common grackle has a variegated,
Females are predominately bronze-brown. It may be necessary to access your birding
guide to distinguish between the female boat-tailed grackle and the female
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.